He shoves his way into our space, barreling as if he could open up a path by sheer determination and wrath. My glasses shift askew as The Little Guy ricochets into my hunched body attempting to tie the shoes of Mr. Ornery. One should not have entryways so small. One should not have massive frustrated boys.
Face on fire, I stand against my enemy. I grab at his shirt and shove him back. He stumbles over one of many scattered shoes. “Just stop,” I yell. Just stop.
There is no space.
There is no room.
There is no breath.
We stare each other down. Until we can breathe again. Until we can hug again.
A firm grip that says, “I’m sorry.”
There are good days and bad moments. There is much joy and much pain. It hurts my soul to see how powerful the rage is and how powerless I am against it in the moment. Each time we get better and I learn and try to teach him, yet deep inside I so often wish we did not have to go through these battles. I wail, “why does he have to be so hard?”
Yet these battles fuel me to try to figure out how to help these boys. They intensify my ferocity in defending their very nature and core. They push me to learn more and try to support more.
While acknowledging that I am challenged by trying to deal with Super Tall Guy’s intensity, I sometimes give no grace to others who struggle with it as well. Might I be holding them to higher standards? Might I be expecting too much from them as if holding a degree or years of experience teaching other children should have prepared them adequately for these boys? Maybe we all need more grace in figuring this out together.
I never sent the Open Letter to the Coach at my son’s gym. I paused and gave it some space. Instead I sent him this letter today:
I wanted to let you know that I could tell you were frustrated with my boys at the Halloween Party and I’m sorry about that. I know that they get wild when excited and feed off the energy of others.
I don’t know, though, if you know that these boys have some special needs. They aren’t physical that you could see, like a limp, but it’s within the brain as a result of prenatal injuries and stress on a forming brain. My sister and I committed to adopting and raising children who had been abandoned and we are always so grateful to find help and support in others.
To me gymnastics is an excellent sport for boys like mine because it works on developing self-awareness, self-control and self-discipline and a healthy, fit body. It teaches them to tone down the “dysregulation” that is within. And what makes that work is awesome male role models who are willing to teach and coach, like you!
So I thank you for being Coach to my boys. Hopefully they will continue to progress and one day we will all look back with pride and say “Wow! Look how far these guys have come!”
Because maybe, just maybe, this “village” that it takes to raise these kids is learning and growing together and is not always perfect. But we will only get to success by forgiving, encouraging and working together.
This is a great letter you wrote to the coach. Honey gets more than vinegar! You did well, and in time you will see the results in your boys. We’ll be praying, for you and for them and for the teachers and coaches and all who will be working with them. Love you, Aunt Anne